The Steel Wheels’ ‘Adventures of Grace and Henry’ Captures a Family’s Pandemic Experience [Exclusive Premiere]
In 2020, the Steel Wheels began telling their fans' stories through music. Everyone a Song, Vol. 1 shared just a few of the resulting songs, so on Nov. 5, the band will release more of the tracks — including "Adventures of Grace and Henry," which is premiering exclusively on The Boot — on Everyone a Song, Vol. 2.
Grace and Henry are the grandchildren of the woman who commissioned this song, Steel Wheels banjo player and guitarist Trent Wagler explains: Henry was born at the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic, while Grace was a toddler. At the time, their family was converting to Judaism, too.
"As with lots of young children, the question of how much this weird time will become imprinted on young impressionable minds is at work here," Wagler says.
The Steel Wheels — at the time, Eric Brubaker, Brian Dickel, Kevin Garcia, Jay Lapp and Wagler — recorded more than 45 original songs from their homes during the early months of the pandemic, and chronicled the creation of Everyone a Song, Vol. 1 via an NPR podcast, We Made You a Song. Everyone a Song, Vol. 2 is available to pre-order and pre-save now.
The Virginia-bred Steel Wheels began to form in 2004, when Wagler met upright bass player Dickel and fiddler Brubaker while they were in school at Eastern Mennonite University: Wagler and Dickel began playing acoustic shows as a duo and were soon joined by Brubaker. When Wagler came across mandolin player Lapp, their quartet was complete, until percussionist Garcia joined in 2017. The band's newest member, bassist Derek Kratzer, joined earlier this year, after Dickel left the group.
After releasing projects together under different names and as a backing band for Wagler, the group released their first album as the Steel Wheels, Red Wing, in 2010. Fans can keep up with the band at TheSteelWheels.com.